Evan Mobley is gone, as the 7-footer was selected with the third overall pick in the NBA draft after his freshman season, but No. 20 USC still has his brother, Isaiah.
And he’s proving to be quite a handful for opponents.
The junior forward had his second consecutive double-double, scoring a career-high 21 points and tying a personal best with 13 rebounds, as the Trojans opened Pac-12 play with a 93-73 victory against Utah on Wednesday in Los Angeles.
Next up for the Trojans (7-0, 1-0 Pac-12) is a trip to Pullman, Wash., to play Washington State (6-1, 1-0) on Saturday afternoon.
“He played really solid on both ends. He was a complete player, which was great to see,” Southern California coach Andy Enfield said of the younger Mobley, who had 18 points and 12 rebounds last week to earn tournament MVP honors as the Trojans defeated San Diego State 58-43 in the championship game of the Wooden Legacy.
It’s been a big week at USC, with the Trojans hiring football coach Lincoln Riley away from Oklahoma.
“Campus is a great place right now after what I called a year of silence,” Mobley said, referring to the Trojans’ run to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament last season. “We just got the new hire (in football). Everyone is happy and we’re trying to keep it that way.”
Against Utah, Boogie Ellis added 19 points for the Trojans, who are off to their best start since 2016-17, when they opened 14-0. Max Agbonkpolo scored 16 points and Drew Peterson had 11 points and eight rebounds.
The Trojans made 13 of their final 14 field-goal attempts in the first half, using a 23-7 run to take a 48-28 lead at the intermission. The Utes never got closer than 13 points the rest of the way.
“It was a good win for us. I thought we shared the ball on offense and our whole team played well,” Enfield said. “We have a long season to go, but we’re happy with our team.”
The Cougars opened conference play Wednesday with a 51-29 victory against Arizona State in Tempe, Ariz.
Noah Williams returned from a neck injury to score 14, and Washington State held the Sun Devils to their lowest point total in 75 years. Arizona State hit just 21.1 percent of its field-goal attempts, including just 3 of 26 (11.5 percent) from 3-point range.
“I’m really proud of the way our guys competed. It was obviously an odd game,” Washington State coach Kyle Smith said. “What a defensive effort. Didn’t expect that at all, but I’m really pleased.”
The Cougars went scoreless for an 11-minute, 24-second span in the first half, missing 15 consecutive shots, yet still led 18-10 at the intermission.
“We were tight,” Smith said. “We sustained it by guarding them right back.”
If the Cougars can keep up that defensive intensity, Saturday’s game could also be a low-scoring affair. USC has kept all seven of its opponents to less than 40 percent shooting.
The Trojans have won their past 10 games against Washington State, dating to the 2015-16 season.
–Field Level Media